The Big Idea Challenge 2017

We are based in Accelerator London, Home to London’s best startups and London Met Student Enterprise. When Toby Kress, Head of Accelerator London asked me if I would like to be a guest mentor for the day at London Met’s Big Idea Challenge, I was very flattered. Looking at some of the other mentors on the panel from Microsoft and Nike, this was swiftly followed by a quick bout of internal doubt ‘Will I be any good at this?’.

On the day, I was partnered with Harris Battersea Academy who had to pitch in front of eighteen other colleges from across the capital. My team’s ‘big idea’ was to create an app which would help women’s safety on a night out ingeniously called ‘Night Out’.

Tragically brought about from the female student’s own personal experience, she wanted to develop a product to help her feel safe to travel after dark. For me, the bit that made this project even more inspirational was that the rest of her pitch team were made up of young men, who felt passionate about supporting women’s safety.

With so much regression in equal rights across the global political stage, I took much hope and inspiration from this future generation who wanted to work together to make everyone feel that bit safer.

It was also a healthy reminder about just how much experience working for over a decade in public relations and two years as a business owner has taught me. I take for granted that I can stand up in front of a room of people and talk passionately about a subject. For these students, standing on stage and practising projecting their voices to a roomful of strangers was completely intimidating (I was nervous for them). After much rehearsal, we got them off script and able to speak passionately from the heart about their project.

The competitor in me is desperate for them to win, but overall I just hope that this experience helps to remind them that it really does just take one great idea to make things happen. I didn’t believe at that age I could ever create my own business and didn’t really have any knowledge or experience of working with entrepreneurs, mentors or business owners. The competition is a great platform to demonstrate entrepreneurship is open to everyone from all walks of life at any age.

It is too easy to say ‘no, I’m too busy’ and not give up a day of your time to take part in programmes such as this when you are running your own business and time is a precious commodity. For me, it was both a validating and rewarding experience and was one of the most inspirational days I have had at work in a long time.

Finally – Good luck to all of the finalists. I hope to celebrate with you at the awards ceremony and a big thank you to my Harris Academy Squad,  you were all fantastic and it was a privilege to spend the day working with you.